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The Gift of Reading

Yes, I’m a reader. Fortunately, I’m not the only one in my family. My mom is, too. So she passed this lovely stack of books that she has read and doesn’t want to keep on to me. Hurray for long, dark winter evenings when there really isn’t much else to do but to sit down with a good book or three and a cuppa.

A Case of Acute Startitis

The plan was to start my new sweater at the end of next week. And then, out of the blue, it happened – I suffered a severe case of Colour Cravings which led to Acute Startitis. And so, here goes …

This is the 4th and final attempt. I first did a swatch on dpns to get gauge. Turns out I knit so much tighter on dpns than I do on circulars, which might account for the 40 stitches too many… Attempt no. 3 died of inaccurate hem-ing (let’s just say that too small a hem will roll up like crazy). Finally, I’ve got my gauge right, nothing rolls  up (or down, or whatever else direction it shouldn’t roll to), the sweater fits, and I’m happily stranding along. The most challenging part for now is to come up with yet another nice colour combination.

That, and taking photos in artificial light. Well, anyway, it’s coming along fine. I have yet to reach the part where I have to work in the steeks, and I’m not sure if I’ll be brave enough to actually cut into my knitting  on purpose – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to call my new sweater, and all in all, I think „Colour Cravings“ sounds just about right.

This is a „Year of Projects“ post. To see what my fellow YOPers are up to, please visit our group on Ravelry.

November 2019 Reads

So here’s the list of books I’ve read in November:

*all links are Amazon affiliate links. Meaning that if you buy a book through one of my links, I’ll get a few cents reward for advertising them (no, don’t worry, you won’t have to pay more than the regular price).

Winter Is Coming

To be honest, there isn’t really much going on over here. Since two of my co-workers were ill, I had to work some overtime, and spent the extra money on an online sewing class, or rather, a class to teach me how to design my own clothes, from taking my meassurements to developing a pattern to sewing the garments. Basically everything a dressmaker will do. So that is going to be one long-term project for next year, and I’m quite excited about starting it. I’ve also got the loveliest yarn lying around, waiting for me to turn it into a lovely, warm, and hopefully beautiful, stranded sweater, which I’m going to start soon-ish, possibly by the end of next week. Also, there’s some lovely sock yarn in really stunning colours waiting for me upstairs. Yarn-wise, this should be a cosy winter.

Other than that, I’ve been out with the camera a lot. Steve and I have both become interested in what’s known as „Urban Exploring“ these days. What a sophisticated term for „we poke our noses and cameras around places they don’t naturally belong“! Just walking around the town I work in, I’ve found many examples of abandoned and neglected places, from a closed-up shopping mall to houses and gardens. Steve recently bought a quadrocopter, so we’ve been out and about with it a few times (so typical for us to start a summer hobby in winter and freeze important parts of our anatomy off), and discovered an abandoned house (possibly a former gardener’s home or maybe even a nursery, judging from the many broken glass houses) quite close to where we live. I’m determined to go back in regular intervals, and document the changes that will inevitably occur over time. For starters, I’ve put our „Lost Places“ photo collection up on our website – click here to see the photos.

The photo above was taken outside the village cemetery. It pretty much sums up what November has been like this year – dull, grey, rainy, cloudy, foggy, with lots of amazing photo opportunities. Here’s hoping December will add a tinkling of snow and a few more rays of sunshine to the mix.

When The Wall Came Down

Frankly, I didn’t believe it.

I remember driving home from work that 9th November, 1989, listening to the radio, and hearing the speaker announce that the border to the GDR was open, and citizens were allowed to travel to West Germany, or anywhere else they desired to go. No, I didn’t believe it. I just couldn’t. Inspite of all that had happened in the weeks before, inspite of all the protest and demonstrations going on in East Germany, inspite of those thousands of people who had escaped during the summer of ’89, inspite of all the people who had made it to the German Embassy in Prague, and were subsequently allowed to leave the GDR. Inspite of everything, really.

I grew up in a divided Germany, with grandparents who had been forced to leave their homes in the aftermath of WW2, more or less raised on the trauma they experienced. My paternal grandmother, for example, refused to visit her sister in Berlin because she would have had to travel through the GDR by train, and was afraid „the Russians“ would arrest and imprison her again, just like they had done during the war, in her far-away hometown that was given to Poland after the war. My maternal grandfather made it to the west but his brother stayed in the east, and in the end, the family was divided by The Wall. Being interested in history, I knew of earlier attempts to shake off the Russian occupation, not just in Berlin in 1953, but also in Hungary in 1956 and Prague in 1968 – and we all know what happened: the Russian government sent tanks, thousands of people died, the survivors were locked up behind the iron curtain, and critics silenced by violence and fear.

I drove home that day and asked my husband if he had heard it as well, and did he believe it? He was just as flabbergasted as I was. We turned on the telly and sat glued to the screen, watching as the first cars, the famous „Trabbis“, crossed the border. I still expected shootings and tanks and Russian soldiers turning up and saying „Fooled ya!“ but thankfully, nothing happened. The Wall had come down. The war was finally over. 11 months later, the two Germanys were reunited.

This year marks 30 years of what is still known as „The Peaceful Revolution“. We live quite close to the tiny village Mödlareuth, formerly knowns as „Little Berlin“ because the wall cut the village in two halves, just like it did Berlin. These days, Mödlareuth is home to the „Deutsch-Deutsches Museum„. They have kept parts of the wall and border facilities intact as part of a permanent exhibition. I had wanted to go there for quite a while (funny how we always drive hundreds of kilometres to visit places and museums, but never seem to make it to the ones that are just around the corner) and now, with the 30 year celebrations, seemed the right time.

Let’s just say that it was impressive, heartbreaking, depressing, overwhelming, and wonderful at the same time. I watched children play and giggle in a place that was once the death strip, totally unaware of the fear the wall once induced. We got to talk to other visitors, lots of memories were shared, from what living in the GDR was like to the quality and colour of GDR mustard back then („It tasted great but it was green! Don’t know what they put into the stuff. It was almost glowing in the dark!“).

A highlight of the celebrations definitely was the Trabbi line. There must have been around 100 Trabbis, Wartburgs, Skodas and other oldtimers of Eastern fabrication that lined up to reenact the crossing of the border. The cars were beautifully restored, that is, kept in their original shape and condition, the majority even had the same old (rather boring) colours they had back then (with the exception of one bright pink one, and a blue, white and red race car style car) – and the same gasoline stink that was so typical for them. Mind you, one of the first drivers to cross the simulated border that day actually pulled out his old GDR passport and waved it to the politicians who had come to watch and celebrate! Yes, it was quite a sight to see.

 

I took this picture when we left … even more Trabbis lining up, waiting to cross the border. 30 years ago, this was exactly the sight on all the roads near the border. We as a country and a united people have faced so many difficulties and injustices during the last 30 years while we tried to „become one“ again. It was good to remember the initial joy and enthusiasm we felt way back on that 9th November, 1989.